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Press Release

Release Date: May 05, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

The Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department (LHP) dispatchers are a group of well-trained professional who offer calming assistance during a time of crisis throughout the Chickasaw Nation, and beyond.

Working 12-hour shifts, LHP dispatchers answer emergent and non-emergent telephone calls and perform a wide-range of tasks including coordinating officer response to identifying vital programs and services for Chickasaws and First Americans, and connecting callers with those resources.

The work of this dedicated group, along with thousands of other first responders was recognized during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, April 10-16.

The Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department dispatchers answer about 1,900 phone calls each week, and respond to 400-500 requests for service.

Ten dispatchers cover calls 24-hours a day, seven days a week from the Ada precinct, where they answer calls placed throughout the Chickasaw Nation and sometimes across the United States, Kelly Kidwell, LHP communication manager.

“In addition to responding to requests for a police officer, dispatchers receive questions about resources,” Ms. Kidwell said. “We have been able to direct them to the right resources in their area.”

These calls require dispatchers to be knowledgeable on available programs for First Americans in Chickasaw Nation treaty territory, which cover 7,648 square miles of south-central Oklahoma and encompasses all or parts of 13 Oklahoma counties.

“Sometimes we have to contact the local authorities to make sure an ambulance or officer arrives at the scene. We communicate a lot with agencies inside the Chickasaw boundaries,” Ms. Kidwell said. “It’s good we have a good working communication with them.”

Ms. Kidwell, who has 26 years of experience in the field of law enforcement, said despite the challenges of the job, it is a rewarding profession.

“I absolutely love it; it is another way of helping people. Even though it’s not face-to-face, it is a form of a public service. It’s a calling.”

Amber Castino, LHP lead dispatcher, agrees.

“I grew up wanting to help others in need and had a primary goal to become a police officer,” she said. “When I had an opportunity to seek out a career in dispatching, I realized I could help a lot of people, even if it was from behind the phone. It became really rewarding for me, and I decided to stay in dispatching and do as much as I can in this area of law enforcement.”

Ms. Castino, who has served with Lighthorse for seven years, has obtained several advanced certifications.

“Our department has been good about wanting us to grow in our training. I never thought I would get this opportunity. I couldn’t be more blessed in this department to be able to expand on my knowledge of this career,” she said.

Dispatchers must rely on training, particularly during high priority stressful calls, and offer a calming voice to a frantic caller.

“As long as I can remain calm, it helps calm the caller and makes it easier to get the information,” Ms. Castino said.

Dispatchers must also listen to background sounds, especially when the caller is in a situation where they cannot answer, and relay all the information to the officer.

“Even though we are not a 911 center, we still have situations where we fall back on our training. You have to have the skills and knowledge,” Ms. Kidwell said.

Following high-stress calls, dispatchers have access to a department peer support group to de-brief and are encouraged to utilize Chickasaw Nation counseling resources.

Both ladies are grateful of the support from fellow officers, LHP administration and command staff, and the Chickasaw Nation’s emphasis on mental wellness.

To contact Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department, call (580) 436-1166.